I'm usually a head-in-the-clouds kind of guy when it comes to morality, religion, and ethics. Sorry if I get really really really boring. It's not intentional. Maybe I'll throw in a few expletives for good pacing.
Anyway, in my last post about my view on Mormonism, I tried to explain (but not very well) that my interest in religion is an interest in facts. As far as Mormonism goes as a cultural paradigm, I like it, but what I'm really concerned about is whether or not the claims of the LDS church are actually facts. I like going to church, having friends there, eating casseroles,... whatever. But for me, the green jello just isn't worth it if there's no God, no "true church", no plan of salvation. For those of you who have expressed respect for the ideal of tolerance of other churches, I say, I also respect and appreciate other churches and all those in them. However, getting back to facts--they're not subjective. And no matter how much you like a lifestyle or a doctrine or a spiritual road to enlightenment, if it doesn't actually reflect cold incontrovertible reality, it's not in the same category that I believe the Mormon church is. Whether you believe that about the Mormon church probably ought to play into whether or not you are a member of said church.
So, if it is true that gender identity and sexual expression are intended for the purpose of eternal families and eternal procreation (as it says in the Proclamation on the Family), and I believe it is true, that throws a wrench in my plan for a manage a trois with Elbow, despite the appeal. It precludes any gay sex whatever, and therefore, probably eliminates the possibility of fully satisfying sexual expression at any time in my life.
But what about happiness?!? I hear you all pleading. God can't expect you to be unhappy, can he? He can't if he loves you, you insist in a Disney withdrawal fit of "ever after" spasms.
Oh contrare, queer friends. Be ready to be Job. Be ready to be Joseph Smith. Be ready to be Jesus. All of these men gave all or part of their happiness up because of a higher cause--something that most people don't even recognize is possible. I've spent most of my life with a delusional understanding of the idea "men are that they might have joy," as if joy is what I want it to be. It's my own road to find what I like and what I want to pursue, I thought.
Well, now it seems to me that my former ideal of joy was just hedonism on steroids. Ultimately the pursuit of joy, happiness, pleasure, self-fulfillment--makes very little sense in an eternal scheme. We are here for reasons outside ourselves. And yes, I believe joy on the part of everyone to be a good and important part of that, but it's not principle and it's so damn distracting to most people I'm tempted to just leave it out altogether. I've specifically avoided the distinctions between joy, happiness, and pleasure that always get debated in discussions like these, because to me they're largely irrelevant. My point is that they all have one thing in common: they're focused on me and me alone--an attribute that forces me to mentally minimize their ultimate importance.
So, to summarize. I just don't buy arguments including the phrasing "God must" or "if I'm wrong, God..." or "my heart is in the right place." Nuh uh. The Mormonism I believe in is based on the factual state of the universe, not a blog poll. God's relationship with us is changeable on only one end, ours.
But realizing this helps me avoid looking for happiness in impossible places. Places that have a sense of certain plausibility based on my current life, my feelings, my ideals. But places that I'm told won't leave me where I want to be in the next life, or maybe even later in this life (I don't know). Thus Mormonism becomes, for me, a huge exercise of faith, of further study, of meditation, of (sometimes, unfortunately) sacrifice.
And even now I can hear keyboards across the blogosphere hammering out angry rebuttals in which my take here is criticized and your personal view on Mormonism defended. (At least, I would hear keyboards if 1. I had bionic hearing and 2. anyone actually read this blog). Well, in a self-absorbed sort of way, I'm just explaining why being gay and Mormon is hard for me. And because of my strict view of Mormonism it probably is harder than for some. I hesitate to compare myself to other gay Mormons, but I wonder if it's much less of a challenge if you don't have a testimony and your threatened divorce from Mormonism is cultural only. Or if you can genuinely lose your testimony over time. Deliberate or subconscious, it is probably an effective coping mechanism. I've lived in the land of cognitive dissonance for so long, I think I'm getting pretty good at just accepting my imperfections without resorting to defensive attacks on the church's stand on homosexuality (or other doctrinal issues that could convince me to abandon my testimony). But the legitimate questions about the church are still a challenge for me, as they are for others, and that's why I want to be an "ardent Mormon" even when I have my struggles with the church. That's my spiritual goal for now.